Have you ever been on a long run or ride and started thinking about sugary drinks? Then when you have one it feels like your muscles are sucking it up, like you can feel it being absorbed? Maybe you can.
Carbohydrates and simple sugars are the only nutrients that can be absorbed through our tongue, directly into our blood stream.
Sugar isn’t the crucial nutrient, it is the refined product that is easily absorbed and easy to enjoy. Carbohydrates are the unrefined and complex nutrient that we need for health and for energy to keep us moving and thinking.
Your brain prefers to run on carbohydrates and so do your muscles.
When you eat carbohydrates they are digested and broken down into sugars. Unprocessed carbohydrates are full of nutrients and fiber, important for health. Once absorbed into the bloodstream, carbohydrates broken down into sugars are absorbed into muscle tissue for fuel for working muscles.
Researchers at the University of Michigan discovered a glucose sensing pathway in muscles that affect how you absorb energy from sugar. When the researchers fed high-fat meals to mice the fat interfered with their ability to absorb sugar and their insulin wasn’t as effective as after a low-fat meal. This is when they discovered that muscle cells have their own sugar sensing pathways that help regulate blood sugar. Muscles need sugar for energy.
Complex carbohydrates are critical for health and performance and simple, processed sugars are more easily absorbed into the blood stream, meaning a quicker hit of energy for working muscles. This is why it is so important to eat carbohydrates when exercising for long distances, you need to keep your muscles fueled, and now we know how important blood sugar is to our muscles. So important they can sense it in your blood stream.
Maybe when you start dreaming of sugary snacks after a long workout it is because your muscles are telling you it’s time to fill up the tank?
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